Tuesday, 16 June 2020
Department of Education and Skills
203. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if post-primary school bus capacity on a route (details supplied) will be increased to meet the demand; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10704/20]
School Transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department.
The purpose of my Department's School Transport Scheme is, having regard to available resources, to support the transport to and from school of children who reside remote from their nearest school.
In the current school year over 120,000 children, including over 14,200 children with special educational needs, are transported in over 5,000 vehicles on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country covering over 100 million kilometres at a cost of over €219m in 2019.
Last autumn I announced a review of the School Transport Scheme with a view to ensuring funds are being spent in the most effective way to meet the objectives of the scheme. The terms of reference and scope of the review have been finalised and a cross-departmental steering group led by my Department established.
A minimum number of 10 eligible children residing in a distinct locality, as determined by Bus Éireann, are required before consideration may be given to the establishment or retention of school transport services, provided this can be done within reasonable cost limits.
All school transport services are reviewed over the summer months. Arising from this review, routes may be altered, extended or withdrawn depending on the number and location of eligible children who will be availing of school transport for the following school year.
Children who are eligible for school transport and who have completed the application and payment process on time will be accommodated on school transport services where such services are in operation.
Children who are not eligible for school transport, but who complete the application and payment process on time, will be considered for spare seats that may exist after eligible children have been facilitated; such seats are referred to as concessionary seats.
In cases where the Department is satisfied that the nearest school is full, eligibility for school transport will be determined based on the distance that children reside from their next nearest school having regard to ethos and language. If a family has further information in regard to the closest school being full they should contact School Transport Section of my Department. Further information in this regard is available on my Department's website www.education.ie.